by ilene - March 20th, 2011 6:45 pm
Complexity researchers who study the behavior of stock markets may have identified a signal that precedes crashes.
They say the telltale sign is a measure of co-movement, or the likelihood of stocks to move in the same direction. When a market is healthy, co-movement is low. But in the months and years before a crash, co-movement seems to grow.
Regardless of whether stock prices go up or down or stay the same, they do so in tandem. People are copying each other, and a small nudge can send everyone in the same direction. The system appears primed for collapse.
“One of the most important things happening now is that economists are trying to understand, what is systemic risk? When is the entire system vulnerable to disaster? Our results show that we have a direct, unambiguous measure of that vulnerability,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute.
Seen through an econophysicist’s eyes, a stock market panic is an avalanche.
Bar-Yam’s findings, released Feb. 13 on arXiv, are part of an emerging research field known as econophysics. It applies to economics insights from the physical world, especially from systems in which networks of interacting units produce radical collective behaviors.
Heated water turning to gas is one such behavior, known technically as a phase transition. Another is snow gathering into an avalanche. Seen through an econophysicist’s eyes, a stock market panic is an avalanche, too.
Keep reading here: Possible Early Warning Sign for Market Crashes | Wired Science | Wired.com.
by ilene - March 1st, 2011 5:52 pm
Courtesy of Mish
A number of sites are commenting on a Bloomberg video in which El-Erian, PIMCO Co-CEO says "Dollar could lose its reserve currency status".
Bloomberg: "Mohammad what does a weak dollar signal to you, a dollar that can’t jump up here on a day like we’ve seen today?"
El-Erian: "It is a warning shot to America that we cannot simply assume flight to quality, flight to safety. That people are starting to worry about the fiscal situation in the U.S. They are starting to worry about the level of debt. They are starting to worry about what they hear about states and municipalities. So, I would take this as a warning shot that we cannot assume that we will maintain the standing of the reserve currency as we have in the past."
Reserve Currency Definition
Before we can debate whether or not the US will lose reserve currency standing, we must first define what it means.
Investopedia defines Reserve Currency as follows.
"A foreign currency held by central banks and other major financial institutions as a means to pay off international debt obligations, or to influence their domestic exchange rate."
I accept that definition. Unfortunately Investopedia rambles on with nonsense about the implications: "A large percentage of commodities, such as gold and oil, are usually priced in the reserve currency,causing other countries to hold this currency to pay for these goods."
That sentence is a widely believed fallacy. The reality is no country is obligated to hold dollars to buy goods denominated in dollars.
Currencies are Fungible
Currencies other that illiquid currencies with low or no trading volume (think of Yap Island stones or the Cuban Peso) are fungible. It is a trivial process to switch from one currency to another.
You can buy gold or silver in any country, and I assure you those transactions do not all take place in dollars. Thus, just because a commodity is widely priced in dollars does not mean it only trades in dollars.
That holds true for oil as well.
I keep pointing this out, unfortunately to no avail, that oil trades in Euros right now. There is no selling of Euros to buy dollars on the front causing the oil producers to trade dollars for euros on the back end. The oil states simply sell oil for a price in Euros and then hold Euros in their…
by ilene - September 4th, 2010 5:29 pm
By Elliott and Ilene
Globalism is featured in several of this week’s Favorites articles. The ever insightful Paul Craig Roberts asks whether “economists have made themselves irrelevant” in his article "Death by Globalism".
Michael Synder points out that globalism is no longer "something that is going to happen in the future", but is instead a hard reality that is currently annihilating our middle class in his article "Winners and Losers." Of our new global economy, Michael writes:
"…American workers are just far too expensive. So middle class manufacturing jobs are fleeing our shores at a staggering pace.
Since 1979, manufacturing employment in the United States has fallen by 40 percent.
Are you alarmed yet?
You should be.
The truth is that we did not have to merge our economy with nations like China. China does not have the same minimum wage laws that we do. China does not have the same environmental protection laws that we do. In China, companies can treat their workers like crap. As a result of open trade with the United States, scores of shiny new factories have opened all over China while once great manufacturing U.S. cities such as Detroit have degenerated into rotting war zones. We continue to expand trade with China even though their communist government stands for things that are absolutely repulsive and has a list of human rights abuses that is seemingly endless.
But politicians from both parties swore up and down that globalism would be so good for us. Now we have created a network of free trade agreements that would be virtually impossible to unwind…"
What is the result? We have the disparity of multinational corporations doing remarkably well in the face of a weak and sickly U.S. economy. The large corporations are relying on the U.S. consumer less and less. They have moved their factories overseas, avoided U.S. taxes, laid off U.S. workers, and taken advantage of cheap off shores labor. And their earnings may continue relatively unharmed by a lull, double dip, or continued recession in the U.S. – depending on whose perspective. (See Consumer Metrics Institute’s report on the U.S. consumer and our economic malaise.) The result of this corporate earnings/U.S. economy disparity is reflected in the stock market’s performance which seems to have decoupled…
by Chart School - August 11th, 2010 4:17 pm
If "fundamentals" drive trend changes in financial markets, then shouldn’t the same factors have consistent effects on prices?
For example: Positive economic data should ignite a rally, while negative news should initiate decline. In the real world, though, this is hardly the case.
On a regular basis, markets go up on bad news, down on good news, and both directions on the same news — almost as if to say, "Talk to the hand cuz the chart ain’t listening."
Unable to deny this fly in the fundamental ointment, the mainstream experts often attempt to reconcile the inconsistencies with phrases like "shrugged off," "defied" or "in spite of."
That begs the next question: How do you know when a market is going to cooperate with fundamental logic and when it won’t? ANSWER: You don’t.
Unlike fundamental analysis, technical analysis methods don’t rely on the news to explain or predict market moves. They look at the markets’ internals instead.
One tool that many traders find helpful in evaluating the markets’ internals is Elliott Wave Theory. Elliott Wave International is offering readers a free trading eBook put together by its senior analyst, Jeffery Kennedy. The eBook contains practical trading lessons which may help you trade any market with more confidence. According to EWI,
This complimentary 32-page collection entitled Commodity Trader’s Classroom (valued at $59) provides you with essential lessons no trader should be without.
Here’s what the eBook covers:
- How to Make Yourself a Better Trader
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- How to Integrate Technical Analysis into an Elliott Wave Forecast
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by ilene - July 9th, 2010 3:03 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Yesterday I recorded three segments on Tech Ticker from downtown Chicago, hooking up with Joe Weisenthal at Nasdaq.
From Yahoo!Finance Michael "MISH" Shedock: Stimulus Will Fail Like It Always Does
There’s no hotter debate right now than stimulus vs. austerity, as folks like Paul Krugman and even Barack Obama call for more spending to fix the economy.
Michael "MISH" Shedlock is not having any of it, arguing that the financial pump has failed, and that the only way to get the economy back on track is to pursue a policy of less government, and less spending, with a special focus on reforming pensions, public sector unions, and other institutions that drain the government of its resources.
As evidence: Japan. The country has now seen multiple decades of recession despite massive pumping on both the fiscal and the monetary side.
But at least Japan hasn’t had a debt crisis yet, right? The key word there, says Mish is "YET." The fiscal situation in Japan is getting more and more tenuous, and it’s no sure thing that the market will retain its confidence in the Japanese government’s ability to finance its debt. And of course the same thing could happen here.
But for now in the US the big risk is deflation, which you can see in housing and other economic categories. Spending won’t solve this problem; actual economic adjustment is what’s needed to start growing again.
There are two more short segments that play back-to-back if you click on the top link.
Thanks Joe, that was a lot of fun.
As a followup to the discussion on retail sales, please consider Did Retail Sales Rise or Did Tax Rates Go Up?
by ilene - June 18th, 2010 12:05 pm
As usual, Steve presents a very balanced view of economic matters. Always worth reading. – Ilene
Courtesy of Steve Randy Waldman at Interfluidity
I’ve been on whatever planet I go to when I’m not writing. Don’t ask, your guess is as good as mine.
When I checked out out a few weeks ago, there was a debate raging on “fiscal austerity”. Checking back in, it continues to rage. In the course of about a half an hour, I’ve read about ten posts on the subject. See e.g. Martin Wolf and Yves Smith, Mike Konczal, and just about everything Paul Krugman has written lately. While I’ve been writing, Tyler Cowen has a new post, which is fantastic. Mark Thoma has delightfully named one side of the debate the “austerians”. Surely someone can come up with a cleverly risqué coinage for those in favor of stimulus?
Here are some obvious points:
Austerity is stupid. Austerity is first-order stupid whenever there are people to whom the opportunity cost of providing goods and services that others desire is negative. To some economists, that sentence is a non sequitur. After all, nothing prevents people from providing goods and services for free, if doing the work is more beneficial to them than alternative uses of their time right? Economists who make this argument need to get out more. Doing paid work has social meaning beyond the fact of the activity, and doing what is ordinarily paid work for free has a very different social meaning. It is perfectly possible, and perfectly common, that a person’s gains from doing work are greater than their total pay, so that in theory you could confiscate their wages or pay them nothing and they would still do the job. But in practice, you can’t do that, because if you don’t actually pay them, it is no longer paid work. The nonmonetary benefits of work are inconveniently bundled with a paycheck. Under this circumstance, having the government pay for the work is welfare improving unless the second-order costs of government spending exceed both the benefits to the worker in excess of pay and the benefit to consumers or users of the goods and services purchased.
by ilene - June 11th, 2010 11:48 am
Courtesy of TraderMark
Love or hate his politics, there is no doubt George Soros is one of the brightest investment minds of the past few generations. Hence when you have Soros on one side saying we have only begun the 2nd stage of the financial crisis, and on the other hand you have "Unicorns and Butterflies" Bernanke telling us all is well (kumbaya!) [and coming off one of the worst economic forecasting records the past half decade you could put together], you can guess which side one might be better off listening to.
“The collapse of the financial system as we know it is real, and the crisis is far from over,” Mr. Soros said at a conference in Vienna. “Indeed, we have just entered Act II of the drama.”
NYTimes DealBook has a full transcript of the speech Soros gave at the Institute of International Finance in Vienna here. Remember, you can choose to accept the red pill or the blue pill; if you choose the blue pill Ben Bernanke has solved all your ills… if you choose the red, please read on for some excerpts.
- Soros, 79, said the current situation in the world economy is “eerily” reminiscent of the 1930s with governments under pressure to narrow their budget deficits at a time when the economic recovery is weak.
by ilene - May 28th, 2010 6:02 pm
Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
I think we all already knew this, but I wanted to bookmark it on my site for some future occasion when the government and the Fed deny it, probably in a response to a question from Ron Paul.
The question I have in my mind is where does this show up on their books, and what other markets are they active in?
It also seems a bit ironic, since the current topic of discussion on Bloomberg TV is "investor trust in freefall?" The consensus of the talking heads is that Wall Street’s holy men are under attack by evil governments, particularly those of the European persuasion, and the odd US regulatory agency.
Steve Wynn is gushing about the business friendly, stable atmosphere in the People’s Republic of China, as opposed to the US and those anti-business fascists in Washington. Although it is funny that he thinks the place in the US that most closely resembles China for being ‘business friendly’ is Massachusetts because they are willing to give him tax guarantees for 15 years. I suppose that when you turn them upside down all corrupt oligarchies look alike.
In an email this morning my friend Janet T. dropped me a note about Vietnam’s new bank friendly atmosphere, and wondered aloud if Jamie Dimon would take his operations to Ho Chi Minh City in the unlikely event that meaningful financial reform is passed in the US.
One can only hope. Should we take up a collection for airfare? I would love to see the terms of their bailout packages over there after the next financial crisis, which is sure to come. A water hose, bare steel bedsprings, copper jacketed ben wa balls, and a well charged car battery would probably serve for openers, instead of softball questions and false protests of indignation from Barney, Chris, and the boys which is what those meanies in the Congress frighten them with now.
German Econ Minister:
U.S. Fed Is Also Active In Currency Markets
By Roman Kessler
MAINZ, Germany -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Federal Reserve is also active in currency markets, German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle said Friday.
His comments come on the heels of remarks made by his Swiss counterpart who said that the
by ilene - May 27th, 2010 1:20 pm
The European banking system is in crisis, says Hendry.
"I would recommend you panic."
The hedge fund manager of Eclectica Management went on BBC Newsnight last night to play pessimist against Jeffrey Sachs, an economist from Columbia University.
Of course the two get into a fight. It’s awesome.
At first Hendry is talking quietly and his manner is worryingly subdued but wait just a minute. He starts going after Sachs at 2:38.
"When you bring on a professor and when you bring on a politician, they are unaccountable. Jeffrey’s wrong, you know what? He’ll survive and tenure. I’m wrong, I go bankrupt."
Then Jeffrey defends himself a little bit, says no one should jump to the conclusion that all is lost, and Hendry literally jumps on him. (4:50)
"I don’t know," says Hendry, "because, was Jeffrey skiing two months ago? I was working, Gillian (Tett, who was also on the show) was working. So we can tell you about the real world."
It’s so offensive that the host has to jump in and say, "Now that’s just a low blow."
(Meanwhile, Gillian Tett is loving this, grinning from ear to ear.)
Then Jeffrey, who doesn’t want to let some other guy fight his fight for him, warns Hendry:
"Please watch your language, it’s just ridiculous. Watch your rhetoric a little bit."
Seriously, says Hendry. It’s time to worry. Panic.
"Banks today are refusing to lend to each other. Bank share prices are collapsing. We have no ability to gauge the credit-worthiness of the banking system."
"I say, let’s purge this system of its rottenness," recommends Hendry. "Let’s take on a recession. It’s going to be tough. People are going to lose their jobs."
"The banking sector is responsible for gross folly," he says. The solution is just, "Don’t pay them. Don’t reward folly."
"We can spread this over 20 years or we can get rid of it over 3 years… You make a mistake, you pay for it."
Of course remember that Hendry is shorting the crap out of Greece and the European banking crisis. He’s a big proponent of speculation and shorting, so he hates bailouts and would love massive failure.
by ilene - May 25th, 2010 10:42 am
Courtesy of Rom Badilla, CFA – Bondsquawk.com
Well, I picked a great night to have trouble sleeping.
The Euro is down 1.1 percent to 1.2233 versus the dollars as the European markets open for trading. Currently as of 4:00am EST, my screens are nothing but a sea of red with most of the major indices down 2 to 3 percent.
Back here in the U.S., S&P 500 Futures are now down 24.9 points to 1046.40.
Swap spreads are spiking higher as this is the real story here. Banks apparently are having trouble with funding as the symptoms of a credit crunch are present. I hope I am wrong but diagnosis will come with the passage of time. 2-Year interest rate swaps is now higher by 7 basis points to a spread differential over comparable maturity Treasuries of 59 basis points. In two trading days, the spread has gapped out a total of 17 basis points.
The yield on 10-Year Treasuries is down to 3.11 percent and kissing up against a major resistance level of 3.10 percent. Passing that level could be a race downward, similar to the race toward the low in yields of 2.03 percent in late 2008, which occurred off of the same resistance point.
If you accept the belief that markets are forward thinking, the pricing suggests in the aforementioned scenario the possibility of a double dip and/or deflation. In either case and regardless of that happening or not, this is getting ugly real fast. Hopefully, the markets will turn around by the time of the opening bell comes around in the morning. That would be a nice dream to have as I head off to bed. Unfortunately and judging by the issues that is currently plaguing the markets, that’s all it will be for now. A dream.